It's probably the biggest source of misinformation out there about the Chinese language, so today Echo and David take to our studio to chat about what exactly constitutes the difference between standard mandarin and the Beijing dialect. If you're totally new to Chinese, you can use this show to practice some key words in a way that will help you come across like a native speaker. And if you're a more advanced beginner, we also have some real Beijing slang in here we encourage you to throw into conversation to bewilder and amaze your landlords, friends and neighbors.

Learning Chinese? Our podcast today is designed for absolute beginners to the Chinese language. What that means here at Popup Chinese is that even if you don't know any Chinese, you should find most of the materials covered totally accessible. We keep our discussion to high-frequency vocabulary, practice using words and phrases that you're actually going to use, and don't get into overly-complicated explanations that distract from having you talking in Chinese right away. So take a listen, and if you like what you hear, be sure to signup for a free account for much, much more.
 said on
February 2, 2012
I haven't heard a single person say 小孩儿 or 小孩 in Shanghai. 小孩子 is the word.

Few people would argue that 小孩儿 is "standard", but the standard was established in Beijing, and it seems, quite arbitrarily, not at all based on predominant usage by speakers in the country. And by the way, sounding like a japanese girl does not seem all that bad... especially if you are a japanese girl. When you say "people from the South", do you mean "south of Beijing"? Because that would mean most of China...
 said on
February 3, 2012
hey pefferie,

Just meant the southern part of China generally w/r/t the Yangtze river (we're generalizing, but it's a beginner show here...). 小孩子 feels OK to me too btw -- but 小孩 without the 儿 is definitely off.

In the spirit of saying something nice about Shanghai, let me admit to loving being able to say 大拐 (大拐弯) and 小拐 (小拐弯) instead of left and right. So much easier to remember since I still screw that stuff up on occasion. Also, they've got a lot more good Japanese food.
 said on
February 3, 2012
@David,Echo (pefferie)

all in good spirit . although i have never been to China and 'zhiji xuexi' with few opportunities to converse in chinese/english.

i had a good chunkle. i can relate with my city Ottawa heavy accented french/english dialogues (patois) . perhaps David can remember similar situation here. anyway, i understand Echo's imitation and David/Echo banter quite well .

tks for the fun lesson and will remember not to say 'wan'
 said on
February 3, 2012
I'm from Singapore, and even though a great number of us 华裔 actually grow up speaking mandarin, it's really substandard mandarin. So we definitely say 小孩(子) and 玩 without the 儿. If I were to start using the 儿, they would probably shoot me a "why are you putting on the China accent?" look. It's so depressing... I feel like I have to conform... haha

I have a question though. So in writing, is the 儿 written? Or does the reader just mentally add it in?
 said on
February 3, 2012
Germainetay87,

Hahaha, you have my sympathies~

To answer your question, sometimes yes, sometimes no. If the 儿 changes the meaning, then yes. If not, not necessary. For instance, words like 这儿,那儿 have to have 儿, or the meaning is changed. For 男孩儿,女孩儿, it is not necessary.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
February 13, 2012
Are there dictionaries for native speakers that teach you Beijing erhuayin words (when to put -er in the BJ dialect, when meanings are different with vs. without -er, etc.)?

Are there dictionaries that tell you when I absolutely HAVE to use erhuayin in Standard Mandarin (Putonghua)?
 said on
February 13, 2012
@jinshakira,

There is a book called 普通话水平测试大纲, and it has words you have to erhua in Mandarin. (普通话水平测试 is a Standard Mandarin test for Chinese people).

I'm not sure about Beijing erhuayin :(

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
February 13, 2012
If ya'lls aint never seen this you should really take a peak:

http://www.sinoglot.com/bjs/2008/01/does-the-beijing-r-mean-anything/
 said on
February 14, 2012
Growing up in the Philippines, we were always taught 那裡 and 這裡 in Chinese school. Although I can understand when people say 那儿, I default to 那裡 when I speak.

The schools are making us all feminine! Lol :p
 said on
February 14, 2012
@enfuego96,

Actually this is the first I've heard if the 那里/这里 feminization question. To avoid 娘娘腔 and any overtly pretentious 北京腔 you can always opt for the pleasantly neutral 那边/这边, which is like Visa...everywhere you want to be.

I wonder is someone from the Phillipines can appreciate the pop culture reference?
 said on
February 14, 2012
@Xiao Hu,

I was worried we may lose some fans after putting up this lesson...BUT we always want to do everything for our students' good :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
February 15, 2012
@Echo,

I know that whatever Popup Chinese does is for the good of the students. Don't worry, I don't think you'll lose any fans from this lesson. We Popup Chinese fans are fans for life.

:)

BTW: 我以为说,"这里/那里" 是一种台湾腔,并不是娘娘腔。在我看来,所为的台湾腔,跟说”这里,那里,玩” 的习惯没有关系。台湾男人的腔算温柔女人的腔算嗲,我也不知道为什么,就是这样。说实话啊,我不太喜欢这种腔,而我很喜欢北京腔,天津腔,哈尔滨腔,总之任何儿话音多的腔我都喜欢。我觉得听起来很有意思。不过啊,如果我们外国人的普通话的儿话音太过头的话这样不太好。为什么呀?因为别人不会觉得我们厉害而会觉得我们很可笑。别人会觉得我们是故意的炫耀自己的普通话就是在中国的首都学的。

因此我现在连“一点儿” 都不会说,因为我的儿话音太重的话别人总会取笑我。
 said on
March 5, 2012
I love adding 儿 to the wrong words in Beijing! Plus, if it catches on, I will know I created those words.

.
 said on
March 6, 2012
I have never heard the measure word “根” for 笔. I've only ever heard 一支笔. Have I missed something or is 根 a Beijing slang term as well?
 said on
March 6, 2012
@Victory -- yes -- it's northern slang rather than standard mandarin and you'll run into it in Beijing although also the north more generally. I personally like it, but don't forget to add the 儿 after the 根 if you're going to use it.
 said on
March 22, 2012
This is one of the most useful lessons on popupchinese. Thank you! I'm pretty much an Absolute Beginner. But, in any language, the terms used most frequently are affected most by dialect. I've already been blindsided by what to me were totally different words for "this" and "that" :D

So, I'll revisit this lesson dozens of times. To David and Echo: (as Brendan might say in Philly or Chicago dialect): "Hey! youse guys is great!"
 said on
April 21, 2012
so this 根儿 stays the same in every context, right?? so if you say a water pipe would it be 一根(儿)水管(儿)
 said on
April 21, 2012
@sageres,

Yes, when it's used as a measure word, so 一根儿水管儿 is good :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
April 29, 2012
so... I think I've heard 法儿 far3 is this able to be said????
 said on
April 30, 2012
@sageres,

Yes, like in 没法儿 (unable to do sth).

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
May 6, 2012
so can you say 几点 ji3 dianr3??? or 缺点 que1dianr3????
 said on
May 6, 2012
@sageres,

Not 几点. Whenever it has the meaning of 一点儿, it's fine. Like 我缺点儿钱,or 这点儿太少了.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 22, 2012
Having first learned Chinese while in living in Shanghai, I became accustomed to hearing and saying 哪里, 这里, 玩(玩). In fact the only time I heard the 'er' sound was with 二.

I wonder how much of Northerners thinking the lack of an 'er' being feminine sounding is just their disdain for Southerners. Perhaps their distain for Shanghainese in particular? Certainly the addition of 'er' sounds harsher to my ear than leaving it off.

I actually have a Chinese text book from 华师大出社 which first introduces 这儿 and 哪儿 in chapter 4, but then introduces 这里 and 哪里 in chapter 7 as having the same meaning. 玩儿 is presented, but not 玩.
 said on
July 23, 2012
@eion_padraig,

I would say there are differences rather than disdain for Southerners. And Mandarin is based on Beijing pronunciation, that's the reason why 这儿, 哪儿, 玩儿 are more common and introduced firstly.

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 23, 2012
@eion_padraig,

I would say there are differences rather than disdain for Southerners. And Mandarin is based on Beijing pronunciation, that's the reason why 这儿, 哪儿, 玩儿 are more common and introduced firstly.

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com
 said on
February 2, 2014
I would reccommend learners to learn the 儿化音 pronunciation first, because it is a lot easier to understand those who dont use it then the other way around. I first learned mandarin in guangzhou and then came to guangzhou. Since then my mandarin has morphed into something a little whiny with a little bit of cantonese influence.
 said on
April 20, 2016
As a woman living in the south, I was told it sounded weird to add the 儿, so I assume the reverse is also true (if you live in the south and don't want to sound masculine, don't use 儿).
 said on
May 3, 2016
I'm an 华裔 who mainly speak 广东话 and i find all this northern and southern Mandarin thing compared to British and American English,or Spain spanish and latinamerican spanish.
 said on
May 6, 2016
I kind of find your comment about sounding like Japanese girls a bit offensive...
 said on
May 9, 2016
@lintianmeili I find your comment claiming their innoffensive comment being offensive more offensive than you find their inoffensive comment offensive.
 said on
July 13, 2016
I find it interesting that slang and accents are so important! I am a physician from the southeast of the United States and have a "Southern" accent which I try to modulate carefully. When I am not watching, it comes out and bites me. What a difference it makes! Same in China, I would suppose? I LOVE these lessons. I almost gave up on learning Chinese, then found your website and struggling with learning characters. I figure it is the BEST WAY TO BEAT OFF ALZHEIMERS!
 said on
June 13, 2018
@lauracdaniell I'm from Texas, and when I studied abroad in China and told my international friends where I was from, they often replied that they were very surprised they could understand me as they expected all Texans to sound like an actor from a Western movie..

Learning Chinese and especially being exposed to native Mandarin Chinese speakers learning English has definitely interested me in different types of English/how an English learner might perceive English words/concepts. I do have family members who talk with a slight accent, and I've never really paid much attention to it before. Now, sometimes, I think about how I might write out what they say, or whether an English learner might understand them.

Anyways, in regard to the original topic, I gotta put in my two cents as well! I also learned 这里/哪里/一点 as I studied in Jiangxi. (Learning Chinese in the US, I started with 哪儿, so that was a weird transition to make.) I had a teacher who was very assertive about how 儿化 sounded gross :P I'm not too sure how the other phrases listed in the podcast were used as my Chinese was very elementary at the time.